The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Check the box and write in Hozey for council?

Investigation opened last week after anonymous mailer hits Valdez mail boxes

 

Valdez Star photo

Tongues were wagging in Valdez last week when this anonymous mailer appeared in post office boxes.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) opened an investigation last week to find the identity of the person or persons who paid to mail out election flyers urging voters to elect the former city manager to city council as a write-in candidate.

Darryl Verfaillie, the city's director of parks and rec, told the Valdez Star Monday night – one day before the elections - that he had paid for the mailing at a cost of $493.

Verfaillie said he did not have to disclose his identity on the mail-out, citing a state election law, AS 15.13.065 ( c ).

The flyers, measuring 5.5 inches across and a little over four inches down, were printed on thin card stock type paper of various colors. The front of the mailer, addressed to BOXHOLDER, contains the disclaimer "This mailing is not authorized, paid for or approved by the candidate. Cost of mailing does not exceed $500 as per AS 15.13.065 ( c ).

Alaska election advertising law can be complex. AS 15.13.065 ( c ), refers to nine additional statutes for exceptions to laws governing campaign contributions.

Alaska statutes clearly state that election "communications" must disclose the name of the person or party that pays for that communication, such as billboards, mailers and other communications, which is another word for advertising.

The APOC website states that the exception to the rule requiring the disclosure of who or what paid for the communication applies to ballot propositions. It does not address candidate endorsements.

The city clerk's office – which is responsible for holding all elections in Valdez – said the city does not have rules governing political advertising.

"The clerk's office does not enforce APOC rules," said Sheri Pierce, the city's clerk.

Hozey said in a telephonic interview Monday that he did not know exactly who had paid for the mailings in his name.

"I don't know who they are," Hozey said when asked if he knew the person or people behind the mailing. He said he found out about it the way other voters did – by finding the flyer in his post office box.

"I was surprised," he said. "That was the first time I ever saw it."

Hozey said he had been contacted by APOC regarding the flyer.

"I gave them the same answering," he said. "I don't know and I frankly don't want to know."

Hozey said he was advised by APOC to file a municipal exemption statement stating his intent as a last-minute write in candidate.

"I'm not going to spend any dollars on the campaign," he said, but also disclosed to APOC that if he was voted into office in the Tuesday election he would serve as a council member.

The election process was in progress at the time the Valdez Star went to press. See the insert in this week's paper to see the results.

What APOC says

APOC Q & A

"Paid for by" requirements for political communications created by a person other than a candidate or individual.

Communication: "Communication" means an announcement or advertisement disseminated through print or broadcast media, including radio, television, cable, and satellite, the Internet, or through a mass mailing, excluding those placed by an individual or nongroup entity and costing $500 or less and those that do not directly or indirectly identify a candidate or proposition, as that term is defined in AS 15.13.065(c). AS 15.13.400(3).

Person: The definition of person includes a natural person, corporations, companies, partnerships, firms, associations, organizations, business trusts, societies, labor unions, nongroup entities, and groups. AS 01.10.60(8), AS 15.13.400 (14).1.

Q: What kind of "paid for by" identifier must be placed on a political communication created by a person other than a candidate or an individual?

A: Clearly identify all political communications with the words "paid for by" followed by the name and address or principal place of business of the person paying for the communication. AS 15.13.090(a)

Q: What "paid for by" identifier is required for a person who makes an independent expenditure for a communication that supports or opposes a candidate?

A: In addition to the requirements identified in questions 1, 5, and 6, include the following statement in the communication. The statement must be easily discernable:

This NOTICE TO VOTERS is required by Alaska law. (I/We) certify that this (mailing/literature/advertisement) is not authorized, paid for, or approved by the candidate.

See AS 15.13.135(b)(2)for more information.

Q: Are there exceptions to the "paid for by" requirements?

A: A billboard, sign, or printed material paid for by an individual acting independently of any other person that is made to influence the outcome of a ballot proposition or initiative proposal application does not need to include a "paid for by" notification. This exception does not apply to advertisements in newspapers or other periodicals. AS 15.13.090(b)

4. What is the penalty for missing or incomplete "paid for by" identifiers?

A: Violations of the "paid for by" requirements are subject to civil penalties of up to $50 per day for each day the violation continues. AS 15.13.390(a). A person commits the crime of campaign misconduct in the second degree if the person knowingly prints or publishes a communication intended to influence the outcome of an election of a candidate or outcome of a ballot proposition without a "paid for by" identifier. AS 15.56.014(a)(2)

 

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